This is not intended to be a long post, but I made a promise the night Alice Hawthorne died not to forget. You see...I was in that park the night Eric Rudolph bombed Atlanta and killed Ms. Hawthorne. I remember running through the streets of Atlanta that night trying to find a safe point to collect myself and surmise what was happening. I watched the City of Atlanta scapegoat Richard Jewel to save their Olympic gold...and I watched them minimize Alice's death to save their moment of Olympic glory.
It was a shameful way to handle a tragedy...but I want you to know...in 1996 Atlanta hosted the world, but Alice Hawthorne is dead too.
Here's a recent article that I hope you enjoy...and please say a prayer for Alice and her loved ones.
Games overlooking bombing victim
By DAVE HYDE
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
And Alice Hawthorne is dead, too.
This is all her husband wants to hear. It is what he asks someone to remember. It has become a six-year quest that has caused nightmares, demanded counseling, taken him to the outposts of an FBI manhunt and to the depths of uncharted disappointments.
On Friday night, John Hawthorne sat in his Albany, Ga., home and watched another Olympics begin, hoping against history that with the Games back in America and terrorism all over the news, his wife would be remembered.
He watched the Sept. 11 flag displayed. He heard mention of the 1972 Munich Olympics victims. And he waited.
"What about Alice?" he asked the television.
And he waited.
"She's someone, too," he said.
Finally, John Hawthorne did what he has done to the Olympics since his wife was the lone person killed in Centennial Park by a terrorist's bomb at the 1996 Atlanta Games. He turned them off. He sat in the silence. And he kept waiting.
You do not know Alice Hawthorne. Maybe you don't even remember one person died in the Centennial Park bombing. But that is the point today. She is the forgotten victim. She is no one's concern, no group's cause, no country's tragic memory.
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Even when the Olympic torch passed through Albany a few weeks back on the way to Salt Lake City, her daughter wasn't asked to carry it. The daughter who lay on the ground beside her dying mother. The daughter who was hospitalized for a week by the bombing. The daughter who was 13 at the time, who has undergone counseling of her own and who at 19 today tells people she left something in the blood in Centennial Park.
"They couldn't even let her carry the torch 100 yards," John Hawthorne said. "They asked a sportscaster to do it. Doesn't that seem strange to you?"
He has been speaking for 20 minutes now in the even, ordered tones you might expect of someone who spent 26 years in the military. His voice has never risen. He hasn't sworn. And when he expresses hope his wife will be remembered, it has always been placed in the context of other victims' tributes as well.
But six years of anger was bubbling to the surface as he kept talking how this death has been brushed aside: How Atlanta officials forgot to call him about a memorial event six months after Centennial Park; how Olympic officials refuse to answer his e-mail; how Atlanta Games organizer Billy Payne still hasn't called to offer condolences; and how with all resources pointed at Osama bin Laden, the FBI's hunt for his wife's alleged killer, Eric Rudolph, was called off.
John Hawthorne drove to North Carolina a few times to visit the FBI's mountain headquarters. He wanted the agents to know he cared, if no one else seemed to.
"I hear our president say we're not going to rest until the terrorists are found," he said. "I guess that does not include domestic terrorists. It's great they caught [Oklahoma City bombing terrorist] Timothy McVeigh.
"But this is a chapter no one wants to admit is open. It's just beyond me. It's hard for me to express it. Everyone has always said I've handled this very graciously, and I've said the politically correct things and I haven't pointed fingers at anyone. For all these years I've trusted the system to work. I guess because I wasn't saying anything, everyone thought it didn't matter.
"But the truth is, from the moment when Billy Payne, in the press conference after the bombing to reassure the world that the Games should continue, said, `There's only one person who died' -- that's when I became angry. That one person meant everything to me."
The truth is, it isn't just Payne. Our society defines tragedy by numbers these days. Twenty dead in a plane crash barely registers beyond a day's headline. A couple of schoolchildren killed by a bullet-spraying lunatic is met with as much relief as tears.
One woman lost to a terrorist's bomb is a blip. But one life counts as much. One life is missed as much. John Hawthorne wants you to know that. He realizes his wife isn't any more important than any other victim of terrorism. But is she any less?
"The tough part is there's no closure," he said. "I went through some very serious emotional issues, and I was talking to one of the counselors and trying to understand what was it that was still in the way. The thing we kind of settled on was every time the bombing is shown, there's one scene when the folks are standing there drinking beer or whatever and you see the bomb blast and the reaction.
"It was at that exact moment Alice died. I see that moment over and over, the exact moment I lost my wife. I can't watch it anymore."
And so, as another Olympics begins and some victims are paid tribute, John Hawthorne doesn't watch at all. He can't. He hasn't asked for much all these years. Just for someone to remember, anyone to put his wife in the same sentence with the dead victims of Sept. 11 and Munich and Oklahoma City.
Alice Hawthorne is dead, too.
You can e-mail Dave Hyde at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is not the first time that Atlanta has scapegoated heros or forgotten the fallen...just ask Wayne Williams...Atlanta has a history of over-protecting their image.
Remember Alice Hawthorne...
Washington Post: Olympic Bomber Given Life Sentence
Ebony: "She Didn't Want To Miss Out On Anything"
Alice Hawthorne Centennial Olympic Park Proclamation